Military History

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Jun 22, 2009
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Can't believe I never saw this thread.

I too am a big fan.
Mainly just of history in general, but WW2 I find very intersting.
 
May 26, 2009
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Big thanks to the Hitch, for directing me to this thread. Maybe I should've branched out from just the road and clinic sections sooner.
 
Jul 20, 2011
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I was not a fan of history in particular (have done some reading / writing on colonisation, particularly in Africa and also at the impact of colonisation on the film industry) but finding this thread fascinating.
 
More and more interested in military history. I have the books by Sun Tzu and Clausewitz on my bedside table but I'm yet to start reading, lol.

My military heroes are: Chief Kondiaronk (Beaver Wars), Hector de Caillère (Beaver Wars), Chief Pontiac (French & Indian Wars), General François-Athanase Charette (War in the Vendée), Andreas Hofer (Napoleonic Wars), Marshal Živojin Mišić (Balkan Wars, WWI), Marshal Louis Franchet d’Espèrey (WWI), General Draza Mihailovic (WWII), Marshal Philippe Leclerc (WWII), General Pierre Koenig (WWII), General Marcel Bigeard (Algerian War), ... hmm okay I'll desist here. :D


Of course, the French contribution to the victory in WWII was decisive and not restricted to the "Résistance" at all ... :rolleyes:

Besides, World War II starts to bore me. Every history TV programmes, so many books, history mags, ... In the end there's an overdosis ...
 
A good book on military leaders is Andrew Robert's eds The Art of War- just as a mention.
The Bill Fawcett series' on military "How to lose a war/ battle..." are also quite good.

Paul K.Davis' book "Masters of the Battlefield" is probably one of the best military history books I have read and ends at the Duke of Wellington as technology shifted to allow generals to be furthermore behind the battle lines. It contains good details into key battles for 15 generals and their qualities as generals that draws on quite relevant theory.

For the last 6 years I have been a massive history nerd and compiled lots of books on military history, so i'm looking forward to re-reading them again!
 
Timmy-loves-Rabo said:
Can't believe I never saw this thread.

I too am a big fan.
Mainly just of history in general, but WW2 I find very intersting.
As do I. Particularly the path the world took from Civil War in the US, what the European observers learned(or didn't learn), thru the early 20th century(Roosevelt), WW1->WW2->Korea->Vietnam..as it was related to the ColdWar, etc..fascinating. Whale vs Elephant, actually starting with Thucydides...
 
Sep 25, 2009
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not sure if i mentioned it before, but i'm a student (in a self learning sense) of everything related to napoleonic wars and the emperor himself.

also, i enjoy following the evolution of ALL war making hardware...from british long bow to ww2 german missile technology to the latest electronic warfare...

i do know - and the input here reflects it - that most folk will be interested in the military history take based on the prevailing literature of their own country. this is natural. that's why i make a point of reading, if i can get my hands on it, the opposing or the competing version of a battle. for ex, i purchased ALL published memoirs of all ww2 german generals, both in german and english... it is fun to sort through a winner vs a loser versions of the same events...

and finally, i believe that studying a nation's war conduct, particularly in most contemporary or recent wars, it is possible to predict that nation's practical moves when peacetime gets challenging.

i also try to understand the political/economic/psychological reasons leading to a particular war. those of ww2 origins are particularly fascinating. for ex, i find the traditional versions blaming everything on hitler and stalin, to put it mildly, far from accurate...
 
Echoes said:
More and more interested in military history. I have the books by Sun Tzu and Clausewitz on my bedside table but I'm yet to start reading, lol.

My military heroes are: Chief Kondiaronk (Beaver Wars), Hector de Caillère (Beaver Wars), Chief Pontiac (French & Indian Wars), General François-Athanase Charette (War in the Vendée), Andreas Hofer (Napoleonic Wars), Marshal Živojin Mišić (Balkan Wars, WWI), Marshal Louis Franchet d’Espèrey (WWI), General Draza Mihailovic (WWII), Marshal Philippe Leclerc (WWII), General Pierre Koenig (WWII), General Marcel Bigeard (Algerian War), ... hmm okay I'll desist here. :D


Of course, the French contribution to the victory in WWII was decisive and not restricted to the "Résistance" at all ... :rolleyes:

Besides, World War II starts to bore me. Every history TV programmes, so many books, history mags, ... In the end there's an overdosis ...
Read this.

http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Thousand-Day-War-1945-1975/dp/0312790945/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416666390&sr=1-1&keywords=10+000+day+war

Fascinating
 
About the Vietnam War, I read the book by John Prados: Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, which also goes all the way back to 1945.

And a book by Frenchman André Bouny: Agent Orange: Apocalypse Viet Nam, which as the title suggests, focuses on the spreading of Agent Orange across Vietnam and beyond. It was just unbearable to read about so much horrors. You would just wonder: how did they dare to do that? :( I guess the number of victims of Agent Orange has exceeded 4 millions now and is still counting ...

About the Vietnam War, there's a question that I've long wished to answer. It's known that the US bombed Laos from 1964 till 1973. One bombing, every 8 minutes, the most bombed country in history. The late Fred Branfman showed that the US bombed the Plain of Jars officially in order to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail while he argued that the Ho Chi Minh Trail did not cross the Plain of Jars. Was that correct?

I also have an old French mag from 1965 about the repression of buddhists by Diem, that I'm yet to read and a bio of Philippe Leclerc, which might tell me thinks about how the Indochina War started. :)
 
"Reasonably" good documentary on the Rwandan Genocide on the ... BBC: http://vimeo.com/110709607

We should guess Kagame is on the verge to lose the support from Britain and the USA, so the truth can be revealed. You of course need to be careful with the BBC and indeed, some details are missing. The pre-1990 history of the region is oversimplified (+ the 1990 to 1993 period) and not a word about the Congolese natural resources that Rwanda, Uganda and the Anglo-Saxons are plundering.

But at least, it's now acknowledge that Kagame probably ordered the attack on the President's plane (sparking the Genocide) and the Rwandan conquest by the Tutsi RPF was just a springboard. The aim was the Congo.
 
Libertine Seguros said:
On the other hand, most of Poland's contribution to the war effort came as resistance - yet you are willing to dismiss France's contribution because of their early surrender. La Résistance are one of the most enduring images of the war, and were vital in the war effort for the Western Allies. This is not to dismiss either - both contributions were vital - it was La Résistance that helped many in Germany to freedom via Spain and America, just as many in Poland, Hungary (Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat awarding many Jews in Hungary Swedish citizenship in order to allow them to live free and reach freedom, is particularly noteworthy here) and Czechoslovakia did in their part of Europe. The formal contribution of France to the war is fairly insignificant - but then so is Poland's. Their contribution to the war effort under occupation in the form of resistance movements, however, is spectacular.
You do know that France actually never surrendered. Pétain only asked for an Armistice, which means an arm suspension. He didn't capitulate, unlike I'm sad to say, our Belgian King. The Vichy regime was officially neutral. Pétain never delivered the army/the fleet to the enemy. The "collaboration" - which is Pétain's desastrous mistake - was only economic but unofficially he never gave up the fight against the Nazis.

July 15 1940 Germans asked Pétain for free disposal of Northern Africa, Pétain said no.
October 1940 Pétain warned Franco about the possibility of German troops crossing Spain to attack Britain in Gibraltar and Franco agreed with Pétain. That was before the meeting in Hendaye when Franco fooled Hitler. The next day in Montoire, Pétain convinced Hitler to attack Russia instead Gibraltar. That was Pétain's active diplomacy to protect Britain. Oh yeah, he secretly negotiated with Churchill, too and Churchill still trusted him...

It should be highlighted that Pétain prevented the Nazis from having the atomic bomb by removing the heavy water that they got in Norway, to Cambridge, UK and subsequently to the US. Is this a known fact?

The "Résistance" was actually financed by Pétain at the start:
“Réseau Martial” by Paul Dungler financed by Pétain (500,000FF, pretty big for the time). Most spectacular operation by this network was General Giraud’s escape.
“Réseau Hector” indirectly financed by Pétain.

Shortly after the armistice, General Picquandar started to make several operations to hide weapons, with the help of Weygand. He was the head of the general staff of the Armistice Army.

By 1942/43, General Frère created the “Organisation de la Résistance armée”. Frère was arrested by the Gestapo, and died in a concentration camp, just like his successor General Verneau. The third head of the O.R.A. was general Revers, who previously was the chief of staff of Admiral Darlan, so the minister of War of the Vichy Government.

Pétain and Weygand reorganised the army in Northern Africa by 1941 and after Operation Torch, Pétain approved of Darlan resuming the war against the Axis powers.

In the meantime the Gaullist troops were fighting the Axis powers in Libya. Leclerc took Kufra in early 1941, took the Fezzan in 1943. König withstood the Afrikakorps in Bir Hackeim in 1942, making the win in El Alamein possible. Leclerc wins the battle of Ksar Ghilane, enabling Montgomery to penetrate the Mareth Line, etc etc etc. If that is not formal contribution to the war, I don't know what it is.
 
Echoes said:
It should be highlighted that Pétain prevented the Nazis from having the atomic bomb by removing the heavy water that they got in Norway, to Cambridge, UK and subsequently to the US. Is this a known fact?
well, as far as I know, Fréderic Joliot needed the heavy water for his own nuclear experiments in France and informed Armaments Minister Raoul Dautry who obtained permission from Prime Minster Daladier to send someone (Jacques Allier, from the intelligence agency) to Norway, who then smuggled it to Paris. This is the official version at least.

I don't disagree that Pétain might have been involved there somewhere - but you make it sound as if he did it personally. And basically the French only got a chance to get hold of the heavy water at all because the Norwegians refused to sell it to the Germans before
 
Attention! I think you are talking about the transfer of heavy water from Norway to France. You must be right on that. I was refering to the removal of the heavy water from France to the UK by Pétain and his government. It was on June 18 after the Armistice.
 
My mistake, Armistice was officially signed on June 23, so it was before but after Pétain has formed his government.

I learned it thanks to this great conference (in French) by Adrien Abauzit (a new hero for me :p) [35.14]. It was hard to hear for me because I was an admirer of De Gaulle though I knew that he had his flaws, but I still am. However he showed that the reality is more complicated than one thinks. :)
 
Nov 12, 2014
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Cool thread

History is my hobby, specially militar history, and in a way the reason why I will never be trully happy in profissional, I've choosen to be an accountant instead of an academic career in History, the only one possible.

About Petain and the heavy water, he didn't had anything to do with the sending of the 150 liters (app 40 US gallons) the French had at the time.
Actually France had bought to the Norwegien all their stock, for their own nuclear program, that's why the Germans had to wait until 1943, when the factory was destroyed by the British Commandos. The Norwegien factory was open back in 1930 about then years before the French defeat by the nazis.

During the chaos that followed the fall of France 1n940, it was two French scientists from the Radium Institute with the help of a few military that took all the French heavy water back back to England.

It’s the kind of history that would give a good script for a film, instead of the usual super heroes stuff.
And if you think about it’s real a crucial part, a very significant event of WWII, without heavy water no nuclear bomb could be produced, and the French had all the world stock at the time, so just imagine what could had happened if the Nazis had got their hands on it back in 1940.
The French were the one’s with most advance nuclear programme at the time, way ahead of the US or Nazi German.
I think the question isn’t if Petain would deliver the heavy water to the nazis, the thing is he wouldn’t had a choice, the only thing Vichy could do was to destroy it before the Nazis could reach it. Would they do it ? Well we will never know. But still back in 1940 world leaders already knew the importance of heavy water.


Here’s some importante links to know more about interresting bit of WWII history.

http://stochasticreview.blogspot.pt/2013/11/the-heavy-water-coup-of-1940.html
 
Shingshan said:
Cool thread

History is my hobby, specially militar history, and in a way the reason why I will never be trully happy in profissional, I've choosen to be an accountant instead of an academic career in History, the only one possible.

About Petain and the heavy water, he didn't had anything to do with the sending of the 150 liters (app 40 US gallons) the French had at the time.
Actually France had bought to the Norwegien all their stock, for their own nuclear program, that's why the Germans had to wait until 1943, when the factory was destroyed by the British Commandos. The Norwegien factory was open back in 1930 about then years before the French defeat by the nazis.

During the chaos that followed the fall of France 1n940, it was two French scientists from the Radium Institute with the help of a few military that took all the French heavy water back back to England.

It’s the kind of history that would give a good script for a film, instead of the usual super heroes stuff.
And if you think about it’s real a crucial part, a very significant event of WWII, without heavy water no nuclear bomb could be produced, and the French had all the world stock at the time, so just imagine what could had happened if the Nazis had got their hands on it back in 1940.
The French were the one’s with most advance nuclear programme at the time, way ahead of the US or Nazi German.
I think the question isn’t if Petain would deliver the heavy water to the nazis, the thing is he wouldn’t had a choice, the only thing Vichy could do was to destroy it before the Nazis could reach it. Would they do it ? Well we will never know. But still back in 1940 world leaders already knew the importance of heavy water.


Here’s some importante links to know more about interresting bit of WWII history.

http://stochasticreview.blogspot.pt/2013/11/the-heavy-water-coup-of-1940.html
Norwegian commandos first destroyed/damaged the production facilities, then when the remaining stockpile was to be transported to Germany, the ferry it was on, was sunk by an explosive device.

Never heard about the French side of the story before, I'll have to look into it when I find time.:)
 
Nov 12, 2014
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rhubroma said:
Petain was a French fascist, or am I mistaken?
Well things are more complicated than that. Yes after French defeat he believed that the defeat was a result of democratic goverments, so he became a fascist of the "classical" kind, Family, Religion etc etc.

I wouldn't go so far as saying that Churchill trusted Petain, not after the British bombed the French squad in Mers-el-Kebir, he didn't trust De Gaulle that's for sure.
But yes Petain's final objective was to fight the Nazis and regain occupied France. Of course he was already an old man and his plans ware mostly delusional, like the events of 1943 would shown. Realistical he needed an Army he didn't had, and bringing their colonial to France was not na easy task to say the least. After the defeat and until 1943/44 France was actually living in a Civil War with Petain, Darlan and De Gaulle.

There were some curious facts like the ones that took place in French Indochina during the Japanese Invasion, with the Vichy representatives making several agreements with the Japanese , this after some initial small battles or militar incidents, in which most of the French fighters were indeed German born soldiers of the French Foreign legion.
In any case the Japanese occupied French Indochina until the end of the War
 
Nov 12, 2014
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ToreBear said:
Norwegian commandos first destroyed/damaged the production facilities, then when the remaining stockpile was to be transported to Germany, the ferry it was on, was sunk by an explosive device.

Never heard about the French side of the story before, I'll have to look into it when I find time.:)
Yes I sould had said with the help of British comandos, Sometimes I'm a victim of too much cinema :)
 
Shingshan said:
During the chaos that followed the fall of France 1n940, it was two French scientists from the Radium Institute with the help of a few military that took all the French heavy water back back to England.
I hardly doubt this. So now who gave the order? Actually the order of mission was sign by Jean Bichelonne who was a civil servant and future of Pétain, after the cabinet had deliberated the issue in Pétain's and Weygand's presence.


Shingshan said:
It’s the kind of history that would give a good script for a film, instead of the usual super heroes stuff.
Like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNzU1hTNZgg



Shingshan said:
I think the question isn’t if Petain would deliver the heavy water to the nazis, the thing is he wouldn’t had a choice, the only thing Vichy could do was to destroy it before the Nazis could reach it. Would they do it ? Well we will never know.
What we however do know is that Pétain never delivered the fleet to the Nazis. Laval and Darlan wished military collaboration, that is for sure but Pétain, never. Neither did Weygand.

Shingshan said:
Well things are more complicated than that. Yes after French defeat he believed that the defeat was a result of democratic goverments, so he became a fascist of the "classical" kind, Family, Religion etc etc.
So since when is Religion Fascist? Since when is Family Fascist? Do you have a problem with your family?

Ask Gabriele Adinolfi who is a present-day Fascist if Vichy was a Fascist project, he would say no. Just like he claims that the Christian religion is not Fascist because "internationalist".

Some people around Pétain were heavily influenced by the Church's social doctrine (Auphan & Weygand) which is ideologically uncounterable. I very much believe in it as well. So did De Gaulle actually. But Pétain did not fully implement the Church Social Doctrine. He was not a devoted Christian, while there were a lot of secularist in the government (Laval, Pucheu, Déat & Doriot among others) who would veto this. By the way, most of these secularists were left-wingers AND some of the biggest collaborationists of them all. :D

Vichy never reconsidered the separation between Church & state and hardly gave any subsidies to Catholic schools. Even if they created the first social insurances, it's the provisional government of General De Gaulle that created the Welfare State.

Oh by the way, Pétain was granted a mission to write a new Constitution for France and that Constitution which was scheduled to be published in July 1944 was ... democratic!


The French defeat can be explained by multiple factors but yeah the previous democratic government had their responsabilities. Just like all the US carmakers and oil company which made the Wehrmacht what it is (see Sutton's "Wall Street & the Rise of Hitler"), the incompetence of some military officers (like Gamelin) and the British cowardice (here I'm refering to Lord Gort whom Weygand needed to sandwiched the German Troops during the Battle of Sedan but he walked away).

Shingshan said:
I wouldn't go so far as saying that Churchill trusted Petain, not after the British bombed the French squad in Mers-el-Kebir, he didn't trust De Gaulle that's for sure.
Mers-el-Kebir just shows how much of a little man, Churchill was. I no longer have any kind of respect for him. Killing his own allies. His aim was to capitalise on the situation to take over the French colonial Empire.

It was Pétain's honour not to wage war on Britain after that. He would then send three emissars to Britain to keep contact with Churchill and even De Gaulle.

In spring 1941, Colonel Groussard went to London and Churchill said something like that (I only have the quote in French, hard to translate it back, so these were not Churchill's exact words):

“Tell those who sent you here that I understand the painful situation that is yours. In this unfortunate bleeding France – divided into two parts - , I know that your bosses’ task is almost superhuman. I approve of their effort to protect France and the French as much as they can but I’m asking them not to forget that the allied keep fighting. I ask them to keep faith in the future. I also wouldn’t tell the Germans “I hate you” if I were to govern your country because you always have to avoid the worst. […] Tell Vichy that I deeply respect the person of Field Marshal Pétain. I have never believed that this man could have wished a German victory. I can accept being attacked in your press, England being vilified if it can be used to beguile the enemy.”
 
Nov 12, 2014
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Well it will always be difficult to know who gave the order, but I doubt it was Petain directly, still the importante thing was the fact that there was a clear preocupation by the French administraction for the Nazis not to a have an hold on the heavy water, and that it went straight to England and not to to colonial territory.

Pity the film didn't had subs, but the events are the ones taking place in Norway if I did understood well, I was talking about the French part of the evnts and the escape of the heavy water to England, at one point we all have seen the film with Richard Harris and Kirk Douglas.

And yes you're right Petain never gave anything in militar terms to the Germans, he was a WWI hero, so a defeat with the Germnas (nazis or not), was something he couldn't stand. So it makes more hard to understand why the economical collaboration (and a policial one also), considering the predictable events of 43. And I don't know much about what happen in political terms between 43 and the arrival of the allies to Normandy.

Well religion per si is not fascist of course, but to be honest I thinking or making na anology with the Portuguese case (Salazar), with the famous (or infamous it depends on your point of view),tetralogy of Family, Fatima Football and Fado, that kept us away from Europe for so long.

Not difficult to think that for Petain Vichy state was just a means to an end, and his political doutrine was just an answer to the defeat. Didn't knew he was handed to mission to make a new constitution.
The reasons for the defeat oh well...we don't have time :)

I really don't believe Churchill intentions were to take an hold of the French colonial empire, that would mean another war, and losing de Gaulle support. It was a bad decision, based on the fact they were afraid the French fleet (still powerfull for the Mediterranean Sea), could end up in German hands, let's not forget that even if the German had no significant fleet in the Mediterranean, there was also the Italian fleet and together they could be a real threat. In the end no French boat fought for the Germans and in 43 they rather choose to sink their boats instead of giving them, so in my view it was a pure (if wrong) militar decision, another Churchill blunder like the one of Galipoli. Even so in my account he was a great men.

It's funny because at the time several French vessels of the Atalntic fleet were fighting alonside with the British, even took a crucial part in sinking of the Bismark.

The problem for Petain was that Vichy was an impossible regime, and even if I can concede it wasn't his intention, any kind of collaboration was a collaboration after all.

But yes Franco had his Blue Division, Vichy never had those (apart from individual volunteers).
 
Was watching a documentary and they said "more people died in the last 12 months of the 2nd world war than in the previous 4 years combined".

Can't seem to verify it on the internet, at least not with a simple google search. But wow, that would be a really mindblowing fact.
 

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